Patterns of conditioned interaction in your relationships, come from what you have learned and become familiar with, as to what is acceptable and not acceptable. However, they do not necessarily make them right.
In this blog, I cover five (and there are plenty more of these) patterns of interaction that I have experienced in my relationships, that trigger emotion, that are driven by emotions, that involve a lack of awareness and a level of self-focus.
Baseline these patterns of interaction foster disconnection, misunderstanding, distance, protection, lack of respect, lack of value, lack of self-worth, and even arguments. And they are interactions where we learned and were conditioned to behave, respond and react in the ways we do. So if we learnt them, we can unlearn them, if we were conditioned by them, we can unravel the conditioning. It takes conscious work to do so.
Instead, we can facilitate interactions that grow awareness and deepen our understanding of ourselves and other people. Develop respect, consideration, valuing, and appreciation. And where both parties can contribute to the healing of emotions and the growth of self-worth in what we truly deserve to experience in our relationships.
My relationships have gifted me the opportunity to not only experience these patterns but work with finding ways of unraveling them. And as a result, I have named each of them.
5 PATTERNS OF CONDITIONED INTERACTION
- The – ‘Push Back”
- The – ‘Take It Away From Me’
- The – ‘Shut Me Down’
- The – ‘Project And Impose’
- The – ‘Unappreciated’
1. THE ‘PUSH BACK’
My dear beloved partner Alan is my reference point for this, bless him. And it is most unusual as he is a very optimistic, glass-half-full person.
When I share a suggestion or idea of something we could do, the response I get is a ‘push back’. He resists what I am suggesting. And the pushback is in the words he uses and the energy I feel off of him.
He will make comments along the lines of “that won’t work” or “we haven’t got the right equipment to do that”. As well as “you won’t have enough time to do that”.
What I experience is that he negates my suggestion, and indicates that it is not possible. This really deflates me then annoys me, because he is saying stop before I or we have even started.
It may well be the case that what I am suggesting is not possible, but at least let’s explore the suggestion. Let’s explore the possibility of it. Then I will be really happy to let it go if we find out it is not possible.
The Reasons For ‘Push Back’
There are always reasons for the pushback, and it does require an understanding of this. It can be because the person is busy and does not have the headspace to deal with the suggestion right then, and their conditioned response is to push back. If it is pushed away I don’t have to deal with it.
It can be that the suggestion seems like too much work and they don’t want to have to do it. So negating the suggestion, eliminates it.
What is important, is that it is more powerful to share this information and how you are feeling, than it is to push back. Push back leaves space for assumptions, misinterpretation and hurt.
Unraveling The Process
Unraveling is about unwinding and undoing the conditioned and familiar pattern of interaction. Doing something different, to change it.
Rather than being a glass half empty person in this interaction, what is more powerful, is to look at what is possible.
Rather than saying “that won’t work” say “let’s explore it and see if we can make it work”. If you want to say “we haven’t got enough equipment” reframe it to “let’s see if we have the equipment to do it”.
When you look at what is possible, you stay open and receptive to the person and the process. You receive the energy of the suggestion from the other person and work with it. This benefits both people and creates some magical outcomes.
2. THE ‘TAKE IT AWAY FROM ME’
My beautiful mum has been the gift for this experience, and I am sure I am also someone who has done this to others.
I will be sharing a situation and interaction that has occurred, where I have been treated in a way that has left me feeling emotional and even disrespected. The reason for my sharing is so I can work through my processing, with some support.
The response I then get is “poor Samantha, she must be going through a lot”.
Exasperation is mild, to say the least, for what I feel.
What I have shared and how I am feeling is taken away from me. The focus is taken away from me and the focus is put on the other person. There is no response in relation to what I experienced. Instead, empathy is shared for the person who treated me in the way I felt disrespected by.
Unraveling The Process
I know my mum is trying to support me by pointing out what may be happening for the person – Samantha.
What is of value in this process, is for me to be clear on why I am sharing what I am. And for me to communicate this to the person (mum). Then for the person (mum) who is listening, to acknowledge the person (me) for what they experienced and for how they are feeling. To hear their story, their experience, their feelings and to acknowledge this.
The reason they are sharing is that they are hurting and they trust you. Express some empathy for them. Then share your empathy and thoughts about the person.
3. THE ‘SHUT ME DOWN’
Another situation where I am sharing what has happened in my interactions with someone. I am feeling emotions and want to get some advice and feedback.
The response I get is “I don’t want to deal with this” or “I don’t have the energy for this”. And even (dear I say it one I have said) “I don’t need this shit”.
I am being shut down. The sharing and the process has had a halt, a full stop, and cease and desist notice put on it.
When I am shut down, I am being stopped from expressing my processing. What is important to me, in what I am sharing is rejected. I am essentially being made to suppress what I am feeling and thinking because mum no longer wants to listen or talk about it. And given the emotions, I am feeling I also have a lot of energy wanting to be released, which is racing through me.
I am being dismissed by mum. And what she is essentially saying to me is that “what I have to say is not important to her”. And this can trigger even more emotion for me, and impact my self-worth.
Reasons For The ‘Shut Me Down’
Mum is emotionally attached to what I am talking about. And she does not want to have her emotions surface as a result of what I share. She wants to shut her own emotions down, so she shuts me down.
She also may not have the energy to manage her emotions, as other things may be happening for her that are taking up her focus and energy, including physical processing. It may be too overwhelming for her.
Unraveling The Process
The power of speaking one’s truth and sharing what you are actually experiencing and what is happening for you is the way to unravel this pattern.
Rather than shutting the person down, say to them “I am experiencing a lot of emotions in relation to this (person or topic) and currently I am not in the space to manage the emotions.” and “I am happy to explore this with you another time when I am in the right space”.
In addition to this, I can also take the time to check in with the person as to where they are at before I start sharing. I can ask them “I am feeling a bit and would like to work through something that happened with …, are you happy for me to talk with you?”
Both parties can consider each other.
4. THE ‘PROJECT AND IMPOSE’
Got to love people who want to be helpful and of value by assuming that the experience you are going through is exactly the same for you as it was for them when they went through it.
When I have experienced certain situations in my life, I have had people ‘tell’ me what I am going through, what I am feeling and where I am at. Without asking a single question of me.
Yes, assumptions. They assume that I am going through what they went through. And to add to that they start telling me what I need to do about it.
An example of this is being told ‘I will be feeling overwhelmed and stressed, when no, I am not.
The person projects and imposes their views, their opinions, their experiences, and their process on to me. But I am not them.
Imposition of someone else’s process on another person does not respect the other person and their process.
For me I felt like what I was feeling and going through did not matter, it was irrelevant. That the person did not want to understand me. That they could not consider me enough to ask me.
Reasons For The ‘Project And Impose’
I value that a person cares enough to consider me to share what they share when I am experiencing something. The fact that they take the time to be empathetic, make suggestions and express caring, is appreciated.
However, the main reason why people will project and impose their process and experience on others is their neediness to be of value and it is more about them than the other person.
Unraveling The Process
The simple answer to changing this type of interaction is to ask the person. Ask them “what are you going through?” and “what are you feeling?”. Listen to what their process is, then if relevant respond with where it is similar and different to yours.
Be aware of not assuming that someone:
- Has the same experience as you
- Has the same emotional response or reaction to you
- Has the same process and processing as you
- Is at the same place in their growth as you, they may be further on or not grown as far
My responsibility in this situation is to say “thank you for caring about me, I appreciate it, but the experience has been similar to yours and different to yours in these ways …. and this is what I am feeling…..”.
5. THE ‘UNAPPRECIATED’
This was an interesting one for me. In fact, my processing of it to find my process around it, only happened this morning.
My mum has needed some help around the house, and I have had a few reactions to the way she has talked to me and approached me. She started talking to me in a way that was directive and telling me what I had to do.
I had willingly gone to help her and was very happy doing so. What I did not appreciate was the way I was spoken to. Her tone of voice was a matter of fact, stern, and task-focused. I mentioned this to mum and she said “but you know I appreciate what you do for me, I thank you all the time.”
As I was leaving, she said thank you three times in a row. This did not sit right for me, as I do not want her feeling like this is what she has to do. So I worked through my process to figure out what was it I was experiencing.
It was that I was unappreciated, as opposed to wanting appreciation. There is a difference.
Wanting appreciation is doing something for someone so that they say “thank you” and appreciate you. You do something to get something.
I was not doing that. I was doing what I knew was the right thing for me to do, simple. What I was experiencing was being unappreciated. What this means is that I am being taken for granted and treated like a resource rather than a human.
When mum spoke to me that way, I felt unappreciated. So my focus went to me wanting her to say “thank you” but I soon worked out this is not what it is about.
I was feeling as though I was a slave and not a human. That I was not considered, or respected as a person. I felt hurt.
Reasons For The ‘Unappreciated’
I even said to my partner Alan, later that day, “mum is vulnerable because she has been ordering me around”. Mum was in pain, was anxious about what needed to be done, and was fighting what was going on inside of her.
She was trying to control what she was feeling, and this control was expressed and directed at me externally.
Unraveling The Process
What is so wonderful about my relationship with my mother (and with Alan) is even if we have our moments, we process it through (or rather I do, and they then are receptive to me) and we sit and explore it. We look at how we can do things differently.
I shared with mum that I am not looking for “thank you”, I am wanting to be treated as the valuable person I am, and spoken to in a different way.
Mum committed to being more aware of what she is feeling and to share that with me. Through her doing this, then her need to control what is happening for her will be less, and so her tone and approach will change.
She also asked me to let her know if she does go back into the task-focused more directive way, so that we can explore it at the time.
THE POWER OF UNRAVELING
Through recognizing these patterns of interactions and understanding them, then working through them, my relationships have enhanced.
You have the ability to make a difference to yours too.